Arsenal cruised past Brentford to stay top of the Premier League table heading into the international break.
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Goals from William Saliba and Gabriel Jesus set them on their way in the first half and a stunner from Fabio Vieira sealed the win, as Mikel Arteta’s side responded superbly following their first setback of the season last-time out at Manchester United.
The victory means Arsenal have won six of their first seven games this season and sit atop the table on 19 points, one point clear of second-place Manchester City. Brentford have nine points and Thomas Frank’s side just weren’t at the races on Sunday.
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What we learned from Brentford vs Arsenal
This win underlines Arsenal’s progress: Their horrendous defeat at Brentford at the start of last season underlined all of the issues Arsenal had. Just over 12 months later, this convincing win underlined the progress they’ve made. A clear playing style with a young, hungry side who have been painstakingly recruited. Even with Martin Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko out, Kieran Tierney and Vieira slotted in seamlessly as Arteta’s side dominated from start to finish. They are playing with confidence throughout the team and after a few years of building, this is what Arsenal wanted to become. The only issue is the fact that their squad looked pretty thin as a few injuries piled up with teenagers on the bench and Ethan Nwaneri, 15, became the youngest Premier League player in history when he came on late in the game. With the Europa League and League Cup coming up in the weeks after the international break, Arteta will be hoping his squad remains healthy to make the most of all of this positive momentum.
Brentford energy levels unusually low: It was a real off day for the Bees as they suffered their heaviest home defeat since being promoted to the Premier League. Thomas Frank’s side just weren’t at it as usually they push high, force teams into mistakes and pounce on loose balls. There was none of that on Sunday in a subdued display with Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbuemo isolated for large parts of this game. Brentford are usually
Xhaka, Partey give Gunners solid foundation: Much will be made about the movement and class of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Jesus and Vieira, and rightly so. But the solid foundation that Xhaka and Thomas Partey provide should not be overlooked. After returning from injury, Partey won the ball back time and time again and Xhaka just kept things ticking over nicely and was always an option for Martinelli and Tierney on the inside left channel. With Odegaard out, Arsenal’s deeper central midfielders needed to step up and they dictated the tempo of this game and gave the Gunners’ talented attackers the platform to wreck havoc.
Arsenal were allowed to have plenty of the ball and that was perhaps Brentford’s biggest mistake. The Bees are fine with letting opponents play out from the back and then pressing high to win it back but Arsenal often played direct with their initial pass forward and then got their stars on the ball very quickly. Bypassing that Brentford press is not easy to do but Arsenal make it look very straightforward.
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Stars of the show
William Saliba: Scored a header, kept Ivan Toney quiet and made some excellent interceptions when Brentford played direct. What a start to the season he’s having.
Granit Xhaka: Lovely assist for Jesus’ crucial second goal and wearing the captains armband in Odegaard’s absence, he did all of the little things well.
Gabriel Jesus: Great header, ran Brentford’s defense all over the place and Arsenal’s entire attack comes to life when he’s on the ball.
Brentford travel to Bournemouth on Saturday, Oct. 1, while Arsenal host Tottenham on the same day in what is a huge north London derby.
How to watch Brentford vs Arsenal live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 7am ET Sunday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com
The Europa League win over Zurich, away to boot, was a very nice sign but an away win over Brentford would be a terrific indication that the Gunners’ mentality was unaffected by their loss to Manchester United. And how will Arsenal react if “behind” Man City or Spurs before kickoff.
Brentford, meanwhile, has played pretty darn good football but Ivan Toney and Company want to assert themselves as one of the top sides in the Premier League and holding serve against the Gunners could see them just three points behind Arsenal.
In-form players to keep an eye on
The attacking players have been rightly getting a lot of Arsenal love, but let’s focus on Albert Sambi Lokonga and Gabriel, who have became mainstays for the Gunners and will be key to holding down the fort if Thomas Partey cannot go.
The Bees are all about the team concept but Ivan Toney has really started to take hold of his chance to become an elite Premier League striker. He’s the total package.
Brentford team news, injuries, lineup
Sergi Canos is back in the squad. Ethan Pinnock (knee) and Christian Norgaard (tendonitis) are still out, while Kristoffer Ajer comes back in and so does Josh Dasilva.
Arsenal team news, injuries, lineup
Thomas Partey returns for this one, but Reiss Nelson (thigh), Mohamed Elneny (thigh), Martin Odegaard (knock), Oleksandr Zinchenko (knock) and Emile Smith-Rowe (groin) are all out. 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri is on the bench for Arsenal.
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Brentford vs Arsenal: Gunners cruise, remain top of the table originally appeared on NBCSports.com